SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass spoke with Team Shaw members from multiple units including the 20th Fighter Wing, the 25th Attack Group, Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) and the Fifteenth Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 16-17.
During her visit, Team Shaw subject matter experts briefed Bass on COVID-19 procedures, community resources and current operations downrange; she was also briefed on the F-16C Fighting Falcon weapon systems and had the opportunity to load an F-16 alongside 20th Maintenance Group Airmen.
“Team Shaw is doing great things for our nation,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “We have to be able to accelerate the change we need in our Air Force, and be prepared for a future fight. I saw all of those capabilities here with Team Shaw.”
One of Bass’ stops during her visit was to the 20th Maintenance Group where she was shown how the 20th Fighter Wing is accelerating into the future with new innovated ideas, like the creation of fighter generation squadrons. The 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron was divided into three separate squadrons, turning what used to be a unit of about 1,000 individuals into three fighter generation squadrons, allowing troops to have closer ties to their leadership, at home and deployed.
“Team Shaw is a fantastic example of what readiness means, with three combat fighter squadrons able to deploy at a moment’s notice and project combat capabilities to deter our adversaries,” said Bass. “Shaw is maintaining ready Airmen that are able to win in a high end fight.”
During her time with the 20th Maintenance Group, Weasel maintainers spoke about the new fighter generations squadrons and how they increased flexibility and agility to current processes which allow Airmen to extend their focus on development and readiness.
“As leaders, it is our responsibility to set a culture and a climate where our Airmen are valued for the strengths that they bring to the team,” said Bass. “We also need to allow our Airmen space to work on areas where they want to grow and develop.”
The fighter generation squadrons also allow each 20th FW fighter squadron commander to have a counterpart in maintenance which allows stronger relationships between maintenance and operations resulting in a more cohesive environment.
Bass also spoke with the 20th Mission Support Group on the installation’s housing initiatives, as well as ongoing innovations in resiliency programs. Focused on building a culture that facilitates wingmanship and self-care, Shaw now offers resources like peer-to-peer programs and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.
“We have to have a culture where we don’t just memorize the core values or treat them like buzzwords,” said Bass. “Our core values need to be who we actually are and internalize them so we are developing airmen to be the leaders we need for the future.”
Shaw’s Community Action Team director explained to Bass how helping agencies on base are continually pouring into Airmen whether that be through financial classes, relationship counseling resources or creating physical spaces throughout the installation that they can use to unwind and recharge so they are mentally and physically fit to execute the mission.
“What I fundamentally believe is that you can’t pour from an empty cup,” said Bass. “I’m a huge proponent on making sure you’re taking care of yourself physically but also mentally.”
Later, Bass and 20th FW Airmen were provided front row seats to see Air Combat Command’s F-16 Viper Demonstration Team in action prior to one of her all-calls. Their performance showcased capabilities such as the Viper’s turn ratio and combat maneuvers that make it a proven multi-role fighter downrange.
“On behalf of Col. Lawrence Sullivan, 20th FW commander, I’d like to thank Chief Bass for allowing us at Shaw AFB to demonstrate our team’s readiness to deploy and sustain combat F-16 airpower,” said Chief Master Sgt. Steve Cenov, 20th FW command chief. “I’m so proud of our Airmen and all they do to execute our mission. I cannot wait to see where Chief Bass will lead our enlisted corps as we accelerate into the future.”